Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kevin Stadler's Unplayable

Kevin Stadler's Ball suspended in a cholla cactus
    On the 11th hole at TPC Scottsdale during the final round of the Phoenix Open, Kevin Stadler's ball came to rest in a unique position suspended above the ground in a cholla cactus.  The announcing booth didn't have a great grasp of the situation so here it is, step-by-step.
    Kevin Stadler opted to proceed under Rule 28c by dropping within two club-lengths of where the ball originally lay, no nearer the hole, with a one-stroke penalty.  Because his ball was suspended in the air, rather than using the actual spot where the ball was, he was permitted to use the spot on the ground directly beneath the ball as his reference point for taking relief.  This ruling is permitted by Decision 28/11 which covers when a player wants to take an unplayable using Rule 28c, but the ball is suspended in the air.
   David Feherty was a bit confused as to why Stadler was permitted to substitute another ball, providing a poor explanation given by Slugger White that Slugger permitted the substitution because it was dangerous for Stadler to reach into the cactus to retrieve the ball.  Here's the catch - when proceeding under Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable), a player is permitted to substitute a ball even if the ball is readily recoverable. Specifically, the Rule reads, "When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball."
   While Slugger did get the ruling correct, the explanation given on television was a bit wayward.  Any time a player proceeds under Rule 28, they may substitute a ball if desired.

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